UK supermarket chain pulls fireworks from shelves

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Major British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s will not be selling any fireworks as bonfire season approaches amid growing concerns over animal welfare.

The news, announced via social media platform Twitter, was welcomed by many shoppers, with some saying they would switch their regular grocery shop to Sainsbury’s in support of the move.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary welcomed the news.

Sainsbury’s, with 2300 branches across Britain, is the first major UK supermarket chain to end fireworks sales.

The company would continue to sell glow sticks and spinning wands, but traditional fireworks will be off the shelves.

Animal owners and animal charities have long complained about the heavy toll fireworks take on pets, livestock and wildlife.

The news of the ban was revealed in a tweet exchange between customer Sally Woolf, of northwest London, and Sainsbury’s.

She thanked the firm after learning that her local branch wouldn’t be selling fireworks due to the distressed it causes pets and wildlife.

“Any other stores doing this?” she asked. “Can’t thank you enough as my dog is beside herself with fear at these times.”

Sainsbury’s replied on its official Twitter account “Hey Sally, thanks! We won’t be selling fireworks in any of our stores this year. Hope this helps!”

Fireworks look good but can be extremely destructive.
Fireworks look good but can be extremely destructive. [File image] © Matt Buck
Ms Woolf, in her grateful reply, urged other supermarket chains to follow suit.

Last year, Britain’s parliament debated the ongoing sale of fireworks after a petition seeking a sales ban reached nearly 8000 signatures.

However, no law changes are currently being considered, given current controls on their sale, use and misuse.

There are penalties for misuse of fireworks.

The Dogs Trust in Britain also welcomed the Sainsbury’s ban. It noted that more than half of those questioned in a British survey thought fireworks should be limited to public displays only, to limit potential distress to animals, and more than a third of those polled dislike fireworks due to their pets being scared.

Lynn Cutress, the chief executive of horse charity Redwings, has in the past voiced concerns about fireworks.

“This time of year can be tinged with apprehension for any horse owner. A horse’s hearing is much more sensitive than a human’s, and noises that are loud to us can be unbearable and terrifying to them.

“A frightened horse is a dangerous horse; they can charge around their paddocks or even break out of fields or stables, not only risking injury to themselves but those that care for them.

“Please could we ask anyone planning a display, no matter the scale, that lives near a livery yard or land where horses are kept to make the effort to get in touch and give owners the chance to take action. We know it’s a time of fun but we urge people to remember our four-legged friends and be aware of the potentially devastating results of these celebrations.”

The charity’s fireworks guide provides advice for horse owners, based on the experiences of its equine care teams.

It urges owners to stick to their usual management routine unless there are real benefits in making a change, such as moving horses away from planned displays.

Horsey pals should be kept together to help them cope. It urges owners to monitor their animals and perhaps provide a distraction, such as extra hay or a treat ball.

If stabled, leave a radio or relaxing music playing, to mask the noise from fireworks and spectators.

It says owners should double-check potential hazards, and to avoid planning rides or schooling around the time of fireworks.

A fire extinguisher should be kept handy, and paddocks should be checked afterward for spent fireworks.

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